Record Crowds for Block House Steeplechase

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, May 6, 2014


A new date and perfect weather proved a winning combination for the 68th running of the Block House Steeplechase on Saturday, May 3, at FENCE. The record attendance was a great kick-off to a new tradition of “Derby Day in Tryon,” so named because the new Block House date coincides with The Kentucky Derby.
Steeplechase-2BWThe Block House is the biggest one-day event in Polk County each year and is also the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club’s largest annual fundraiser. TRHC, which was founded in 1925 and is one of the oldest charitable organizations in the area, uses proceeds from this and other events held throughout the year to support local non-profit organizations. Among the recipients of their proceeds have been the Kiwanis, Rotary Club, PEER, Foothills Humane Society, Regional Pony Clubs, a variety of local schools clubs, local Fire & Rescue Squads, and canine units. It also has a developing scholarship program for local high school seniors, equestrians and, now, the new Equine Studies Program at the ICC-Polk campus.
“In addition to ticket sales proceeds, we have many individuals and businesses who consistently donate from $5,000 to $20,000 as well as their time, to make sure the Block House event continues to succeed and grow each year,” said TRHC President Nancy Z. Wilson. “The combined efforts of TRHC members, our sponsors, the FENCE team and our terrific volunteers produced another wonderful, family-oriented community event.”
In addition to four professional races, Block House entertainment featured the traditional Tailgate and Hat contests, the Parade of Tryon Hounds, Green Creek Miniature Horses, Hulinndalur Icelandic Horses, Old Tryon Foot Beagles, the release of 68 doves by Homeward Angels Professional White Dove Release, the Polk County Veterans Honor Guard, and Emily Kocher singing the National Anthem. The traditional children’s Stick Horse Race closed out the day.
More than 100 volunteers were involved in the Block House before, during and after the event, Wilson said. “We had close to 100 volunteers at FENCE on race day, which probably made us the county’s biggest ‘employer’ in terms of manpower on that day.”
Wilson especially gave kudos to the FENCE staff for their hard work to get the track back in shape after serious damage from last year’s storms and record rainfall. “The FENCE staff really doubled their efforts this year and presented itself so well. The track and facility has never looked more beautiful.”
The facility, warm welcome and all-day hospitality impressed several new trainers, horse owners and jockeys who had not been to the Block House races previously.
The Block House, FENCE and Tryon/Landrum area also received extensive pre-race coverage from the Tryon Daily Bulletin, including a special Block House issue on May 1st, as well as great color photo spreads from the 2013 race in Life in our Foothills magazine.  Channel 7, Spartanburg’s CBS affiliate, and Channel 13, Asheville’s ABC affiliate, carried not just racing footage but interviews with attendees, volunteers and the day’s honoree, long-time Block House volunteer J. Kelly Murphy III.
“The media interest just reinforces that this is a premier community event celebrating the unique heritage of our area,” Nancy Wilson said. “We could not have asked for a better day or better crowd, and the wonderful fundraising result will enable us to continue helping many deserving local organizations.”
– article submitted
by Tryon Riding & Hunt Club


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